The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Jean-Gabriel Albicocco Day


‘The French film director Jean-Gabriel Albicocco died, aged 65, on April 30, 2001 in Rio de Janeiro, where he was living, forgotten and destitute. It was a tragic end to a career that started so promisingly – by the age of 30 he had made one of the French cinema’s greatest successes.

‘Of Italian ancestry, Albicocco was born in Cannes, the son of the cinematographer Quinto Albicocco. By the age of 10, he was already proficient in the use of a ciné camera, shooting his own 8mm movies around the town. While still in his teens, he worked on documentaries for the cinématograph service of the French army. By 1957, the 21-year-old was assistant director on Jules Dassin’s ambitious adaptation of the Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis’s novel Christ Recrucified, retitled He Who Must Die.

‘After directing a number of well-received shorts, Albicocco made his first feature. Following in the wake of the French new wave, it was The Girl With The Golden Eyes (La Fille Aux Yeux d’Or, 1961), about a fashion designer who falls for a young woman, whom he discovers is the lover of a female colleague. It would be hard to guess that this chic, stylish and stylised lesbian tale, excellently photographed by Albicocco’s father and set in the Paris fashion houses of the early 1960s, was based on a Balzac story.

‘The film was a great success for the director, and for 20-year-old Marie Lafort in the title role, whom Albicocco was soon to marry. He followed it up with Le Rat d’Amérique, starring Lafort and Charles Aznavour, and it was selected for the 1963 Cannes film festival.

‘Then came his biggest hit of all, Le Grand Meaulnes (The Wanderer, 1966), based on Alain Fournier’s popular young people’s classic. In fact, Albicocco was the first person in 30 years to persuade Isabelle Rivière, who co-wrote the screenplay with him, to allow her brother’s work to be filmed.

‘Again working with his father as cinematographer, Albicocco attempted to recreate the fairy-tale atmosphere of the poignant story of the young Augustin Meaulnes in search of a beautiful and mysterious girl and his lost adolescence. Though it was often too frenetic and flashy for its own good, the film was, nevertheless, visually impressive, and became one of France’s biggest box-office successes of the year, as well as making an impact abroad.

‘But his extravagant style – it was noted that Albicocco rhymes with rococo – and rather sentimental approach seemed to lose favour with critics and the public, and his next two films, Le Coeur Fou (1969) and Le Petit Matin (1970), were flops. The latter was a roseate view of the occupation, and featured the celebrated stage director and actor Jean Vilar in his last role.

‘Thereafter, Albicocco decided to give up film-making and work behind the scenes of the industry. He founded the French Film Directors Union in 1968, and organised the directors’ fortnight at Cannes. But in the early 1980s, with a certain amount of regret and bitterness, and now divorced, he suddenly went to live in Brazil.

‘”I no longer belong in France,” he announced, although he was instrumental in forging links between the French and Brazilian cinemas. But his investment in a chain of cinemas, to counteract the influence of the torrent of Hollywood movies, led only to penury.

‘A few days before his death, when it was reported that he was gravely ill, a call went out in France to fellow cinéastes to help Albicocco. Sadly, it was too late.’ — Ronald Bergan





Jean-Gabriel Albicocco @ IMDb
La mort de Jean-Gabriel Albicocco
Jean-Gabriel Albicocco @ Cine Artistes
#265. LE CŒUR FOU. Jean Gabriel Albicocco, 1969
Jean-Gabriel Albicocco @ UNIFRANCE
[Be Kind Rewind] LE CŒUR FOU de Jean-Gabriel Albicocco
Refracted Light: The Films of Quinto and Jean-Gabriel Albicocco



Jean Gabriel Albicocco et Marie Laforêt




5 of Jean-Gabriel Albicocco’s 15 films

Rat Trap (1963)
‘This South American adventure drama finds Charles (Charles Aznavour), a youthful Frenchman traveling to Paraguay to start a new life. Seeking out a rich uncle, the idealistic nephew is rejected by his miserly relation, and he goes on to get involved with a shady woman and a band of gun runners who supply arms for the revolution of the week. Charles and his new girlfriend head for the border after a shootout with federal troops, and a kindly railroad worker hides the couple in an abandoned copper mine. Charles is later thrown in prison while the girl becomes a concubine, but her violator is killed when Charles escapes to rescue her and exact revenge. A pretty harrowing composition could be written by the young couple on “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.”’ — letterboxd




The Girl with the Golden Eyes (1961)
‘Henri Marsay, a rakish lothario, enjoys sex as something of a gamble and a sport. While participating alongside his friends in elaborate scenarios of erotic gamesmanship, he becomes increasingly preoccupied with his latest conquest, and grows distraught upon discovering a rival in her lesbian paramour. Though now relatively obscure, The Girl with the Golden Eyes was not without enthusiasts upon its initial release. Amos Vogel even arranged a special presentation of the work at his influential film society Cinema 16, situating it as an alternative to the Nouvelle Vague offerings of the era. “A mysterious, perverse Gothic tale, derived from Balzac and transposed to a deceptively contemporary Paris, probes the secret of a bizarre love in an atmosphere of sophisticated decadence,” wrote Vogel in his program notes. “Opulent in its artificiality, the film is especially noteworthy for its visual pyrotechnics, luxuriant imagination and unexpected continuity.”’ — Film Society Lincoln Center


Excerpt (dubbed intro Russian)


Le Grand Meaulnes (1967)
‘A film made with vaseline and railway tracks, which takes some adjusting to; but you soon forget to read the subtitles, because you can understand all you need without them. It’s based on the book Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier, and explores a strange adolescence in provincial France at the end of the last century. In the film, Roger Corman meets Proust, Elvira Madigan rides again, and Renoir takes acid.’ — Time Out (London)




Le coeur fou (1970)
‘What strikes at first in Le coeur fou, it is timely it seems ahead of its time, with its chiseled image, its whirling camera movements and its feverish characters, announcing some great Mannerist films of the following decade signed Argento or even Zulawski (which we think a lot), a whole pan of cinema 70’s under LSD, totally screwed up and totally paroxysmal. Everything seems drugged, everything gives the tournis. What disconcerts in a second, is why such a strong work remains unknown. Jean-Pierre Dionnet has the answer: it would be the hangover of the day after May 1968 and Le coeur fou is one of those films sacrificed by economic censorship like Jean-Denis Bonan’s La Femme Executioner , exhumed recently and released in 2015 on our screens. Le coeur fou marks Albicocco’s first public failure, critical but not artistic. Plasiquement, the film is of a new beauty, sumptuous, limit too much, until the indigestion with his travellings and its sequences of barge, almost inciting us to disregard the plot, to let us contaminate by the love sickness violently experienced by both lovers. He is also very beautiful in what he says about these destinies.’ — Chaos Reigns



Le Petit Matin (1970)
‘A coyly maudlin romance set in Occupied France during WWII, all about an adolescent girl, much given to riding dreamily around on a white horse, and her love affairs – of varying degrees of intensity and fulfilment – with said horse, a childhood playmate who turns out to be gay (Baltauss), and a handsome young German soldier (Carrière), also much addicted to galloping about. Always a prettifier, Albicocco drenches the whole thing in a pale green tint, so that even shots of Jewish deportees look like chocolate-box tops. There’s a fulsome Francis Lai score to match the decoratively swirling mists prevailing in the area, and despite a would-be tragic ending, the whole thing is marshmallow through and through.’ — Time Out (London)






p.s. Hey. ** Jim Pedersen, Jim! Aw, how lovely to see you! I would love to have the opportunity to catch up. Truly needed. I’ll be in NYC for a few weeks in June, maybe then? Take care, my friend. ** Chaim Hender, Hi, Chaim. Thanks, pal. ** David Ehrenstein, Morning, maestro. ** Steve Erickson, I know Ladislas Starewitch by name, but I’m not sure if I’ve seen the work or much of it. I’ll look into for it for general interest and, yes, possibly a post, thank you. Yes, a bit different to do the Disneyland experience sober, but its psychedelia is still plenty effective without a booster shot. Maybe music critics have finally realised people who listen to music have ears and minds of their own and don’t need critics acting as though the world of music lovers would be a dangerous place without their finger wagging and trigger warnings. Hope so. ** Amphibiouspeter, Hi, AP. Glad you liked the Reininger work. I agree, obvs. If it was a reminder of ‘Life Aquatic’ that is a huge compliment to me, cool. Ha ha, thanks about my omniference or thereabouts. Yeah, I don’t know. I’ve just always been voraciously curious about a lot of things, and the blog gives me an excuse to indulge that side of me for a ‘good cause’ or something. There was a time quite some time ago when Orlando Bloom could have theoretically been featured in that list, I think? If memory serves. Didn’t get a shot of me and Goofy, sadly. The only time I saw him he was onstage dancing to a Hi-NRG Xmas carol. ** James Nulick, Hi, James. Glad you dug. I liked the ‘God Jr.’ length too. But, yeah, no clue what the length was exactly. Interesting. I too read fewer, much fewer, long novels than I used to, but it seems like most people I know who are older are almost all reading really long novels and seem to think that’s one of those things one does when they’re older. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! That does sound chaotic. I’m assuming the unsold versus sold ratio must weight heavily in ‘favor’ of the unsold. After consultation, this is the Buche that Zac and I will eat with Gisele and Stephen on Saturday. Today I must decide which Buche will be my Xmas day Buche. Big decision. Your brother has arrived! That must help a lot. Just a handful more work days, right? Disneyland Paris was a lot of fun. It’s was very foggy and misty all day so the park looked like food. Here are the rides we rode (I think in order): Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic: The Calm and the Storm, Ratatouille: The Adventure, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Phantom Manor, Hyperspace Mountain, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril, Big Thunder Mountain, ‘it’s a small world’, Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, and Les Mystères du Nautilus. How did Thursday treat you? ** Misanthrope, Hi. Okay, I’ll check out that Lambert thing today. I don’t know who Blake Mitchell is. I’m way behind on the Helix superstars. When I think Helix, I still think Kyler Moss and Kyle Ross. ** Bill, Hi. The Disneyland outing did whatever trick it was intended to do, thank you. Thanks a lot for the late breaking 2017 faves. Noted and noted. ** Fratolish Hiang-Perpeshki, Hello again. Okay, I’m happy to share your poster. Very best of luck in your search. Everyone, Fratolish Hiang-Perpeshki needs your help if you can help him. Here he is to ask you himself: ‘i made to find My adobted alien father. i believe he NOT return to Pleiades,or is on Earth unknown location ((goverment captured)). i am to make my UFO to travel to his place soon. poster here.’ Take care. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. It sounds like Xmas is treating you pretty well so far. I’m curious to see that Grace Jones doc, of course. Have a fine Thursday! ** Right. I think that trusty suggester of blog post ideas Jeff Jackson is the guy who nudged me into doing a Day about the very interesting and quite obscure French filmmaker Jean-Gabriel Albicocco. May you find interest of some degree therein. See you tomorrow.


  1. David Ehrenstein

    Brilliant Albiccoco Day!

    I shallnever forget seeing “The Girl with the Golden Eyes” when it opened in New York back in 1961 at the Paris theater — right next to the Plaza hotel (Ah, that was New York!)
    Please note that the Blazac story it adapts is one of the three novellas in “L’Histoire des 13” — the inspiration for Rivette’s masterpiece “Out 1” The first novella “Ferragus” was adapted in the silent era. Never seen the result. The third novella “The Duchess of Langeais” was adapted by Rivette under Balza’s original title for it “Don’t Touch the Axe” starring Jeanne Balibar and Guillaume Depardieu. Max Ophuls had hoped to make a film of this story as a means of bringing Garbo out of retirement. She had not only agreed to do it but submitted to screen test shot by the great James Wong Howe. These tests were preserved and were included in a recently released boxed set of Garbo DVD. Like all his American films this was to have been an independent production. But Ophuls and Garbo couldn’t find any backers (!!!!!!) and so she went back into retirement and he went back to France to make “La Ronde” “Le Plaisir” “Madame De. . .” and “Lola Montes.”

    Francoise Prevost who plays Marie Laforet’s lover in “The Girl with the Golden Eyes” also worked with Rivette. She played a major role in “Paris Belongs to Us” (where in the film’s climactic scene she intones the great line “It’s your fault. You wanted the sublime”) and co-starred with Joe Dallesandro and Maria Schneider in “Merry Go Round.”

    • Jeff J

      Wonderful details, David. Have you been able to see any of Albicocco’s other films?

  2. _Black_Acrylic

    Albicocco’s films look fascinating but yeah, they do seem difficult to get hold of. Really wanna see The Girl With The Golden Eyes now, however that might be done.

  3. Steve Erickson

    Here’s the Gay City News version of my top 10 list, with intro, commentary, runners-up, my least favorite films of the year and my favorite undistributed films I saw in 2017:

  4. Dóra Grőber


    Yeah, you’re perfectly right. This ratio also has a quite unfavorable effect on the owner’s temper and mood which is understandable but not much fun. It’s lucky I only have 5 more days here because I’m close to telling him to just… fuck off. I do everything he asks (way more than what we initially agreed on, actually) and he keeps attacking me for things I have absolutely nothing to do with. And I can deal with tantrums or moodiness or whatever but I cannot stand when someone deliberately and continuously talks to me as if I was some retard. Eh.

    I’m really curious about what the Buche you chose to eat with Zac and the others will be like! Please share the news on… Monday, then, I guess? Did you manage to choose one for yourself too?

    Wow! Tons of rides and they all look/sound amazing! Thank you for listing them! Which one was your favorite?

    I guess the rant above is a good indicator of how good my day was, haha. Sorry about that.
    How was yours? I sure hope it was a lot more enjoyable!

    (Also, we have some snow here! I’m willing it to go your way now!)

  5. David Ehrenstein

    In which I rip “Phantom Thread” apart — stitch by stitch

  6. Jeff J

    Hey Dennis – What a wonderful day on Albicocco! Thanks for putting this together. You have a remarkable knack for internet research and found much more than I had about him and his films. I sent this to Jeremy Davies, who first turned me on to ‘The Girl with Golden Eyes,’ who was very excited.

    I’ve been down with the flu and slowly recovering. Sounds like I had a longer lived version of what you had last weekend. My immune system has taken a serious beating this fall and it’s been really no fun at all.

    Have you read much Javier Marias? I’ve read ‘All Souls’ and making my way through his anti-novel ‘Dark Back of Time’ – a fave of folks like Blake B. and Scott M. – and while it’s good and all, I’m a bit mystified by the serious fandom he seems to provoke.

  7. Misanthrope

    Dennis, Neat, too, that Lambert got Pansy Division to let him use their music for the video. I read a brief interview with him, and he’s an interesting, thoughtful guy.

    Ah, Kyler Moss and Kyle Ross. Those were the days. What, a year ago, hahaha?

    I’m off on Friday, just took a day off to have a 4-day weekend. I’m going to relax, go to the gym, play my LEGO videogame, etc.

    I think 2018 is going to be a good year. Big things. Big projects. Big positivity. Just watch, sir.

  8. h

    Hi Dennis — I don’t think I’ve seen any of these. Wow, those are amazing posters. Would love to look at one by one during this weekend. Thank you very much. How was the Disney visit? I hope it was restful. I’d also like to visit an amusement park this winter. Wish there were an indoor one in NYC. I like this cold weather but I feel roomier in an indoor park. Strange, maybe? Whew, I’m having a short break from school tasks. Finally, I can get some fresh air …and glitters. I guess I shouldn’t — always behind with tasks elsewhere. But well…

  9. Keatonmas

    Hey D.

    Merry almost Xmas. Thought I’d stop by and say hello. Super busy here, writing, buying myself lots of stuff. Got one of those Nintendos with the 500 games, weird.
    Also just read that new Burroughs South American journal. Went to a psychic today. Everything is moving really fast. Had a weird dream about fucking this hot boy I knew for hours, so he inspired this little Christmas thing. Hugs from the Sunshine State

    Sally didnt want a rape kit for christmas. She always
    did cry on santas lap. Shes fine hes shaking his leg
    to rock her.

    “So glad to be out of that stupid job. Now i can go
    home to my family.” jingle-jingle. He strangled her
    with the bells from the backseat. As her eyes bulged and
    her face turned blue with terror he kissed her about the
    neck and bit her nose off with his hideous yellow teeth.

    The cameras seem to show, a werewolf. a werewolf has been
    frequenting the manger scene. it fucks the sheep, interacts
    with the characters, and pisses on the baby Jesus.

    Santa is that you? a loud crash in the middle of the night.
    a dead naked child hangs in a destroyed Christmas tree like garland.
    Santa was really drunk this year.

    Black-Peter. Black-Peter. Your teens bedroom. This Christmas.

    Burble. Burble. “Fuck-my-life!”

    The green hand reached for the motorized-implement, “Gizmo.”

    Oh look, its the Chansons come caroling, isn’t that the
    Manson girl?

    The ghost of Christmas future. “In the future you wont
    be in a human zoo and about to be executed for fucking
    that dark-skinned girl.” “That’s nice.”

    “Why do you buy us shotguns every year for Christmas?” “Boys
    can never have enough shotguns son.”

    Theres a snowman in the park. Your kids inside the snowman.

    Fax-initiated. “I never knew.”

    Cut! Cut! It’s just not working. Just the two elves. “But
    I’m the Santa Claus.” What are you doing? We just have to
    piss him off. “Okay, once more.” “You elf bitch!” See, told

    “I wonder if Santa left anything in the stockings.” “I wanna
    play a game.” “Ahhhhh!”

    “Terrorists are holding Santa hostage at the North Pole.”
    “Godamn, towel-heads.” “Sir, they appear to be wearing Christmas

    Open your present now, “Welcome to the world without AIDs.”
    “You got me Prep.” “Aren’t we like together though.”

    “Peace on Earth…” ::creek, creek::

    “You’ve a bit of sugar cookie in your mustache.” Smiles
    with green fangs.

    “Remember the reason for the season.” Bends over to pick
    up the fallen ornament. “Under-less velvet?” They just
    looked at each other strangely.

    “Boys are like those old Christmas yard decorations.” “You stick
    a good bulb in thier tail and they light right up.”

    “I like your Christmas sweater.” “I dig the verb.”

    “Naughty-list.” Dies a little more inside.

    “I’ll bet you do.” “Tom Petty is dead.”

    “I like to hold out my tongue to catch snowflakes.” “I like
    it when you do that too.”

    “If I had me a banjo string made of silver twine. If I had
    me a banjo string, I’d know that girl was mine.”

    “The ax flew through the air spinning. Seeing a flying
    ax hit someone in the back is almost like watching someone
    slip and fall on ice. It’s awfully tragic.”

    “He cries when she eats peppermints and he eats peppermints
    when he sucks my dick.”

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